Deer hunting sure isn’t easy and I sure haven’t made it any easier for myself over the years. We all have made our fair share of mistakes in the woods and I am definitely not immune to that. I for one have fallen asleep while hunting, just like the guy in this picture, although I hopefully never had a buck that big next to me! I’d like to highlight a few of my more painful deer hunting mistakes and I how I learned from them.
1. I spotted the antlers across the stream right away and a large body slowly materialized as the tall 10 point buck waded across towards my blind. I was sitting in a portable ground blind I had built myself from camouflage fabric and old ski poles stuck in the ground. As the deer moved in front of me at about 25 yards I drew back and followed the deer with my pin as he crossed. Moving my bow from right to left along with the deer, I prepared to shoot, when without warning my arrow hit the ski pole, fell off the rest and proceeded to loudly clang against the side of my bow. The buck of my dreams immediately bolted and my hopes were dashed.
Lesson Learned? First of all I learned that I must be constantly aware of my surroundings and how they can effect a future shot. Secondly I learned the importance of having a contained arrow rest. Since then I have bought a whisker biscuit arrow rest which contains my arrow quite securely no matter what I do with my bow, I love it. The whole “be aware of your surroundings” lesson truly came in handy this past year when I sat in a tree stand which severely restricted my ability to shoot to the right side of me. I realized this and practiced several times what I would do in the situation a deer presented itself in this problem spot. Low and behold a 7 point buck came along a trail to my right and having practiced what to do, I slowly rose from my seat, turned and rested my gun on the arm rest. 7 point buck down.
2. I had just called in a love struck buck with my doe in estrus call and he was coming in straight to my shooting lane. All he had to do was clear the brush he was behind, step into my lane and I would have a great shot. Well as soon as the buck’s head cleared the last large tree, he swiveled and looked straight up at me. I hadn’t moved, I hadn’t sneezed and he hadn’t winded me. But he did notice a large dark blob in a barren tree silhouetted in the morning sun. The buck busted me and I learned my lesson.
Lesson Learned? Always break up your silhouette when setting up your tree stand or blind. Whether you’re on the ground or in a tree you need to have a backdrop to break up the shape of your body. When picking a tree for your stand, make sure that there are plenty of branches to mask the shape of you and your setup. Also consider setting up so the sun will be to your back, so that if a deer does look your way they will be staring into the bright light. If you’re on the ground, add lots of downed tree branches, leaves, logs and any other natural cover to make your blind blend in more. Remember to also set up your blinds as early as possible, if someone set up a tent in your living room you would definitely take notice the next day. Deer react the same way when you drop your pop up blind in the middle of the woods.
3. The buck and doe stood in front of me nibbling on some scattered corn and they were only 15 yards away. It couldn’t have been much better, except the doe was stubbornly standing in front of the buck and neither of them would move. After 10 minutes the buck finally took a step out from the doe and I was able to pull back. Unfortunately as I pulled back, my bow creaked and moaned and my buck yanked it’s head up to stare right at me. Another buck had busted me.
Lesson Learned? Check all the small things when it comes to your hunting gear. I’ve slowly learned through many mistakes like this, that it’s usually the small things that will in the end determine your success. Carefully clean and check out your gun at the very least once a year, make sure your calls still work properly, check all the parts on your tree stand and definitely double check all the parts of your bow. When it comes to quieting your bow there are many options, but to deal with the squeaks I encountered it is a good idea to go get your axles lubed. Remember the devil is in the details and that is even more true when it comes to deer hunting.
Although I try to learn from all my mistakes, there is still one I cannot figure out. For the life of me I have not been able to banish the occasional nap in the blind. I suppose I’ll never know what I’ve missed.
I know I’ve made plenty more mistakes then these, but I’m more interested in how you guys have screwed up! Got any big mistakes you’ve made? Learned any lessons the hard way? We’d love to hear about them.